• 2014

Year: 2014

“Blackfish”–A Whale of a Tale

  Even if you are not a PETA member, you will be moved by  “Blackfish“, in which SeaWorld captures and trains killer whales, also known as orcas, in captivity.  The SeaWorld parks in Florida (with a brief filming in San Diego) are the center of this compelling film.  An unflinching portrayal of the brutal misconduct of the SeaWorld corporation towards the orcas, “Blackfish”   also reveals the betrayal felt by the young, enthusiastic whale-loving trainers.  Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s use of interviews and  archival footage presents almost irrefutable evidence...

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“The Grand Budapest Hotel” –Hungary for Humor

  This British-German co-production directed by Wes Anderson is  the adventure of Gustave, (a comedic turn for Ralph Fiennes) a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa (the astonishing 17-year old Tony Revolori) , the “lobby boy” who becomes his confident and essential companion.  Together they are determined to prove Gustave’s innocence after being framed for both theft and murder. The story centers on  the theft of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for a family fortune — all against the back-drop of a  dramatically...

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Top Ten Movies of 2013

Every year I have taken a look back at the movie reviews I have written.  When I counted the reviews I have written this year (=18 plus 3 this year about movies released in 2013), I wanted to see what would be my top ten (actually twelve)  favorites.  It wasn’t easy, as both television and cinema have upped the ante on story-telling. This list is not ranked in order of quality –only my top ten for 2013, grouped by genre, and one additional because I couldn’t help myself. Independent Studios (Quirky themes): 1)Dallas Buyers Club (February 24, 2014  review): character-driven as well as plot-driven,...

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Art on Vacation

When we were in Napa Valley recently, the concierge at Bardessono recommended a local artist for a private in-room art workshop. Karen Lynn Ingalls was an extraordinary instructor with a very engaging teaching style.  Her specialty is mixed media in vibrantly charged colors. This delightful painter introduced acrylic painting techniques combined with stenciling and collage, and used a simple paper plate to illustrate the effects from a variety of acrylic media.   These different techniques can be quite confusing, but Karen made them fun for experimentation with different papers and stencils. ...

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“House of Cards”–Season 2: The Main Course

House of Cards–season 2 I just binged on the second season of  the Emmy-award winning “House of Cards,” the Netflix-produced political saga starring Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood and Robin Wright as his wife Claire as it continues its narratively complex drama– even better than 2013’s!  (See my February 2013 review of the first season, “House of Cards”–A Bulimic Buffet for Couch Potatoes?) In this riveting thriller of political ambition, power, and hubris of Shakespearian proportions, we see the Underwoods cement their lethal relationship as...

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“Shake Hands with the Devil”–The Backstory to “Hotel Rwanda”

A Sundance award-winning documentary, this film  takes the viewer to the  hell experienced by General Romeo Dallaire, who was assigned to lead UN peace-keeping forces in Rwanda in the spring of 1994. In 100 days approximately  800,000 Rwandans were slaughtered, most of them Tutsis at the hands of the Hutus.  The images of heaps of dead bodies, and rooms filled with  skulls, are more harrowing than anything I’ve seen in cinema. General Dallaire returns to Rwanda ten years after the massacres in  2004, with his wife protectively guiding him through the landscape of his traumatic past like treacherous...

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